Given Cam Atkinson’s career ledger for prolific scoring by the years, is it any wonder he’s bounced back from missing a year of action to score six goals in his first 10 games this season?
He plays with such drive and determination, no one should be surprised to see him play as if he had only off for a week or two.
Plus, the surgery he had on his back was rather extensive and he’s not the biggest guy in the sport, so a few eyebrows were raised when he came right out and started bouncing bodies around.
Atkinson claims he hasn’t been caught off-guard by the quick start.
“I’m not surprised at all,” he said. “I train hard. I had a long offseason to train hard so that I was physically and mentally prepared to start training camp and the season. I know what I’m capable of doing when I’m on top of my game. I feel good.”
While the 33-year-old Atkinson has been scoring on a regular basis, a lot of guys on the team have been struggling to find the back of the net. Atkinson’s advice? Just keep working at it.
One of the keys is communication. If everyone is on the same page, scoring is bound to pick up.
“A lot of guys speak up between periods, on the bench,” Atkinson said. “Everyone wants to score goals. One of my biggest things, and I always say it to everyone, is we’re getting chances, we’re doing the right things. They’re going to go in. It’s when you start cheating and thinking that you’re going to get chances, you still have to bear down on your opportunities and the power play has to step up a little bit.”
The 5-2 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday night typified the Flyers’ frustrations. They delivered 40 shots and only had two goals to show for it.
“I thought we had a ton of opportunities,” Atkinson said. “They have to start going in eventually. But no one is hanging their heads here. We know who we are. I’d rather have this adversity the first 10 games than later on. We’ll look at some tape and be ready to go against them in their building (on Friday).”
The Flyers are hoping to get usually reliable scorers such as Sean Couturier (one goal) and Owen Tippett (two goals) back on track with a long, demanding road trip coming up starting Tuesday in San Jose.
“I’ve been in a situation where me being a goal scorer and then I don’t score for five, 10 games, that’s where you start cheating,” Atkinson said. “You’re expecting it to come your way. But you have to get back to your fundamentals, letting your hard work pay off. Then good things happen. Get a greasy goal, go hard to the net. Get a goal off your skate. It’s amazing what it will do to your confidence.
“We’ve got a lot of good, young players and they’re getting their opportunities. They’re going to go in. It will be fine.”